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Daily task List

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  • Daily task List

    I use paper and notice that I am thinking a daily task list is appealing, as my day moves quickly and there is sometimes quite a few new things that come up, such as calls and NAs that need to be done today. I have a pretty complete list of projects, responsibilities and next actions. My question is, does anyone use a daily calendar or daily task list to go directly from projects to next actions combined with using it as a place to capture phone messages.

    Or am I doing something wrong in GTD that I need to have this, such as not reviewing actions, projects often enough to avoid needing this.


  • #2
    Despite doing weekly reviews and having my horizons in place, I find it necessary to create a daily task list as well. On that list I include 3 to 5 items, depending upon deadlines, important projects, or a context. So, my list is a composite of perhaps 1 or 2 NAs I need to do that day, 1 or 2 projects I should focus on, and perhaps a context that I have ignored recently or that I know would be perfect to work on that day. It isn't a fancy list, just handwritten I place in my organizer. I use this only as a guide and don't limit my workday to this list. David Allen says in one of his podcasts I heard just this past week that he is not opposed to daily task lists, as long as you don't mind discarding it daily.

    I, too, often wonder if I'm missing something for having to do this. However, I don't dwell on it, since quite a few on this forum do that. I don't, however, keep a phone log, so I can't comment on that.
    Last edited by sdann; 02-13-2008, 06:00 PM.


    • #3
      Day-Specific Actions

      Call it your 'List of Day-Specific Actions' and the GTD police won't notice what you're doing.



      • #4
        Most of my daily actions come at me via e-mail, so my paper context lists remain for the most part my NAs that I organized during my weekly review. For the e-mail actions, I have a @Action folder that I dump actionable item into, and work from that. It does happen that I write a new NA on my context lists, but I try to avoid that. If I have a new idea I now have the habit of writing on my collection notepad.

        Follow the principles, but make your own system, and love it.


        • #5
          I have a whiteboard in my office which holds the list of tasks that MUST be done today, plus a few items that have to be done as soon as I next draw breath. I find it psychologically very satisfying crossing things off the list.

          On the other hand the downside is the very visible nature of the task I am franctically procrastinating on, which is impariing my use of the whitebaord... but that's a different problem



          • #6
            Okay to have a daily action list!

            It is really okay to have a daily action list. My system is now a hybrid of GTD and DIT (Do it Tomorrow by Mark Forster) and I have a closed daily list of next actions. I choose these from my context lists and it is new every day. I have been doing this for some days now and I can tell everyone I have been more productive than I ever have been! My BIGGEST problem with vanilla GTD has always been those long context lists staring at me every day, all of the time, and trying to review EVERYTHING each and every time I completed a next action and needed to move on to the next. I fully realize the flexibility in this, and I have not abandoned GTD at all as I do maintain these lists. However, I find it much easier to look at a daily list -- finalized after an early morning review -- and work from that. Yes, if something blows up and a new high priority emerges that I had not planned on, of course I maintain the flexibility of GTD and move accordingly. MY daily next actions list is NOT fixed in stone.

            Best to all,


            • #7
              I have a list of projects and I review them every day. I make a list of the actions I'm going to do that day, and go from there. I'm experimenting with having no next actions lists at all. Maybe the GTD police will come for me?


              • #8
                Daily work

                I was going nuts cycling through all my actions lists everyday. I'm an Outlook user and I created a category called "@Act today". Every evening, I go through all the context lists and pull into that one category what needs to be done the next day. That way, I've already made my decisions about where to put my time, and don't have to keep going through multiple lists.


                • #9
                  Hi Barb!

                  Hi Barb,

                  You got it -- as I said in my post, that is THE ONE THING about vanilla GTD that I could never get used to. You and I are not the only ones; I have seen so many posts on this forum about having daily action lists, @Today lists, moving all next actions that one would not want to do in a week to Someday/Maybe, etc, etc.

                  I really suggest obtaining a copy of Mark Forster's book on "Do it Tomorrow". It is getting rave reviews in all circles, and I can tell you personally that it works! My hybrid of GTD and DIT is great.

                  Best to all,


                  • #10
                    I'm always up for a book

                    I'll take you up on your recommendation...thanks!

                    You know, somewhere on a podcast or teleseminar, David mentioned something along the lines of a "daily" list...said something about more to follow but that's all I ever heard. David, you you happen to be lurking out there, how about weighing in?


                    • #11
                      Actions marked critical

                      This is what seems to work for me: What I do to avoid choosing frequently from long lists is to mark some actions critical. They are not necessarily to be done today or next day; they have a sort of high priority. When I am looking for actions, I look at these first, and even if they are mixed with other unmarked actions, it is easy to ignore the latter because of the markings. When I find that I don't have enough time or energy to do these, I look at others.

                      Then periodically, mainly through weekly review, but even earlier if I start feeling lost, I look at the whole list to see if some more actions are to be marked critical. And usually I know an action is critical when I add it, and mark it accordingly while adding. I have to constantly keep on telling myself not to mark too many actions critical, else I will be lost again!

                      Some of these actions are really long ones like working on a report, and may go on for more than a day. This "critical" list cannot be called a daily list. But it tries to solve the same problem.

                      Of course this is what works for me; YMMV.



                      • #12
                        My feeling is that it's okay to have a "hot list" of things you want to hit that day, too.

                        Another thought though....

                        If you feel actions are piling up in certain context areas (@home, @work, @errands), then I've found that in the Weekly Review it's helpful to actually schedule myself time IN that context. So in other words, I have about 10 errands that I need to do because I've been spending so much time in the office lately. In the WR, I will schedule two hours on Saturday just in "Errands mode".. or I will schedule 1 hour lunch in "Errands mode".


                        • #13
                          Scheduling time to work down a list

                          I also schedule blocks of time to knock out errands and other lists. I'm experimenting now with a list called "@2-minute actions" for those tiny pockets of time I could be productive.


                          • #14
                            Like Longstreet I also use a hybrid system of GTD and Do it tomorrow (as well as some aspects from Mark Forster's earlier book Get everything done). I believe the two things that have made the biggest different to my organisation is my task list and my day planner form. The forms means that I don't feel overwhelmed by the length of my task list as I only see an amount that fits into my working day, plus I know when I have finished a days work.

                            For some reason I can't include a brief description of how the form works because the forum doesn't like those sentences. However, you can read about the form and how I use it on my blog there is also a link at the bottom of the post where you can download the form.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kate davis View Post
                              Like Longstreet I also use a hybrid system of GTD and Do it tomorrow (as well as some aspects from Mark Forster's earlier book Get everything done).
                              What's a Daily Tasks list? Is it a closed list of Projects (set of actions) you want to do today or just a few Next Actions (bookmarks of the same Projects)? How do you limit when to stop doing that Next Action and move to another one in your list?